Last week was the greatest Charlotte race in history, or at least since we called it the World 600. No one even seemed to mind it took almost six hours on Sunday night, before Denny Hamlin snuck his way in off an overtime restart.
Did Denny have the best car? No. Chastain and Larson did. But Hamlin is now pretty safely in the playoffs with two wins and Toyota on the upswing.
This week? We're going to Gateway? Well, Cup and Trucks are.......Xfinity is doing something else.
A 1.25 mile flat track across the river from St. Louis. Opened in 1995, Cup cars have never raced here, Xfinity has been gone since 2010, and it's been Trucks only since 2014. Roughly a third of the Cup field has never raced here in anything.....including 3/4 of the Hendrick Chevy team.
When we modeled it, we take a lot of Phoenix, some of Richmond, a little of New Hampshire and Martinsville to taste....and a pinch of the other new face on the Cup Series last year, Nashville Superspeedway. Plays a very wide fairway, like Kentucky and Kansas.
Tires from Goodyear are the same codes the Cup guys ran at Phoenix & Richmond earlier in 2022. Repave was five years ago, which you'd think would be good for longer tire wear.
But tire issues and attrition have been the rule with recent Trucks races and the last time the Indy Lights were here. Last year's Truck race had seven of the top ten contenders lost to attrition.
2022 has been super wild for cautions & attrition in Cup. That's meant more restarts and a bigger advantage to those guys who feast on them. Like Ross Chastain.
How do we read Gateway? Well, we should learn a lot in qualifying, and the Cup guys will get 50 minutes of practice before they qualify lots of time to get comfortable.
We will be light on early week bets on the card, but do recommend you buy some of your longer shots now before their prices go up in qualifying.
There is a huge pack of guys in the +800 to 1200 price range. We will sort them out in qualifying. Only one you might rush on price is Chastain at +1000.
Deeper in the field, you find Briscoe at +2500 (won Phoenix), Reddick & Bell at +1800 if you shop some, Suarez at +4000, Erik Jones at +8000. Buy those numbers now because they won't get cheaper on Friday/Saturday. Could also nibble Almirola at +6000 if you have Points Bet. He's been money at New Hampshire, one of the similar flat tracks to Gateway. And, he's had no DNFs this season
The other early week bargain is Any Ford to Win at +430 at Caesars. It's +280 everywhere else.
Fords were five of the Top 10 at the analog track at Phoenix, and I can see Logano, Blaney and Briscoe at the front here near the end. +430 is like getting Kevin Harvick and the whole RFK bunch for free.
Nibbled on some mispriced Top 10s as well, Gilliland & Haley. Gilliland opened at +100000 to Win and was +2000 for a Top 10 at MGM at this writing. He was second here in Trucks in 2018 & 2019, and led 75 laps in 2020 before being wrecked.
Haley also has a Trucks win here in 2018, has been not terrible in Cup this year, and opened at +50000 to Win. Love him in Top 10 as well, even down to the current +600 or so.
And if you believe Ricky Stenhouse will continue his four week streak of Top 10s, you can get that for him at +275 at Barstool. He's as cheap as +12500 to Win.
Early matchups? Like Hamlin over Truex, almost anyone over Bowman, Larson over Hamlin and Briscoe over Harvick. All those are findable at DraftKings and other bigger shops, no more expensive than -115 at this posting.
Trucks are also at Gateway, but instead of just John Hunter Nemechek being priced for perfection, Zane Smith joins him in the "More Expensive Than +400 Club" this week.
This will be mostly a matchups race for me, and subs. With no Cup interlopers this week, it's a fairly tight window of 8-9 guys who can win.
If you're betting on the top two to fail, would throw a dart at Christian Eckes to win at +1200 at Caesars. Was fast, but was wrecked out here the last two years in Trucks. In 2018 and 2019, he combined to lead 96 laps. He's the Josh Berry of this series.....a threat to win every week, and forgotten because he only ran a part-time schedule last season. If nothing else, am shoving in for a Top 5 on him at +175 where available.
Finally........where is Xfinity going? Portland International Raceway.
Seriously. First time ever for the NASCAR guys here. It's a just-under two-miles road course, with some long straights that will still help play up the horsepower advantaged teams with Dale Jr. or the Toyotas.
The only guy with any meaningful track time here is AJ Allmendinger. He's the best road-racer in Xfinity, and has already been bid up to +200 from an open of +300 at DraftKings. Got a litlle at 300 and some Top 3 which opened at -125.
Books are assuming that he wins in a walkover, though have Ty Gibbs still priced at +400 and Noah Gragson at +550. Don't sleep on Sam Mayer or Josh Berry if you can find a Top 5 price based on their cheapest To Win prices of +1200 at Caesars. +175 would be nice to see.
How did Allmendinger get his track time at Portland? He won an IndyCar race. Here. In 2006.
Nobody in a strong car, but AJA, has any real clue what they're doing here. And the ARCA race is AFTER this race. So you can't even cheat with extra seat time there.
Allmendinger is also running Gateway for Cup on Sunday.
A bunch of road course ringers are entered, and were mispriced at open on Draft Kings. Big time. Trans Am Series whiz Connor Mosack is in that spare Joe Gibbs All-Star #18 Toyota, which may be the best equipment in the series with teammates Gibbs & Brandon Jones. He instantly went from +10000 to +3000.
It may rain on Saturday in Portland, which would play up these road racing specialists like Andy Lally and Alex Labbe. Watch him in-play if the rain comes. Lally was literally +100000 to open and Labbe at +50000. Those prices are now 1000% more expensive.
Two other misprices are still live, on cars who could get into the Top 5. Defending series champ Daniel Hemric is +4000 at DK and 1200 everywhere else. Bought a little and looking for a Top 5 based on that better price. Same applies to Brandon Jones, a cheap +4000 at Caesars. Again, waiting for matchups to evaluate.